Feel like your lawn mower is sputtering? Is it losing power or struggling to start? What if it turns off out of nowhere?
All these are signs of a damaged lawn mower fuel filter.
You probably checked it to see that it was all dirty and clogged. It’s not filtering at all. In fact, not even fuel is going through – the filter is damaged and needs a replacement.
Luckily, replacing it is not a hard job. You can learn how to do it in a few minutes with our help.
We’re going to help you whether you’ve done it before or you don’t even know where it’s located. Plus, we’re going to give you a few tips on how to take care of it (and probably an alternative to replacing it).
Want to know what we have to tell you? Then keep reading!
What is a Fuel Filter?
You may think the fuel filter looks like a piece of metal ready to suck away any impurity from the fuel that passes through.
But in reality, it’s as simple as a piece of plastic. In some cases, it may come with a few metallic parts (depending on the quality). Most likely, however, it will be a circular filter media inside a plastic container that’s even smaller than a spark plug.
This filter has the sole job of keeping contaminants like water, debris, and unwanted fuel dirt from getting into your lawn mower engine. Specifically, it prevents contaminants from getting into the combustion chamber (which could cause sputtering, misfiring, and straight-up lack of combustion).
Sure enough, this filter media eventually gets dirty, clogs, and doesn’t work anymore. That’s when you will need to replace it.
How do you know when to do so? Luckily, a damaged or clogged fuel filter always shows clear signs.
Bad Lawn Mower Fuel Filter Symptoms
You won’t notice these symptoms in the filter itself. You’re unlikely even to know the fuel filter is causing the issue until you look at it.
HOWEVER, it is very likely (emphasis on the VERY) that some of the symptoms we mention below are happening because the fuel filter is not working as intended.
1. Sputtering Engine
This could happen when you’re already mowing or when you try to start the mower. It simply sputters and makes unnatural engine sounds that are not what the engine should sound like.
It happens when the combustion chamber receives contaminants that prevent it from functioning normally.
2. Idling Engine
Feel like the engine is losing power out of nowhere? Like it wants to turn off but doesn’t… the blade slows.
That’s also a sign of a dirty filter, as it may mean not much fuel is getting through the combustion chamber.
3. Struggles to Start (or Doesn’t)
This may happen for many different reasons. A clogged fuel filter is one of the most common. Because fuel can’t even go through the filter and reach the engine – it just doesn’t combust.
Importance of Changing a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter
You know the problems a bad lawn mower filter could cause – isn’t that enough?
Well, you may think there aren’t many other benefits, but you wouldn’t be right. Here are some extra things you get from replacing a lawn mower filter:
- Better engine performance – no sputtering, idling or struggling to mow
- Better fuel efficiency – fuel will reach faster and more efficiently into the engine, causing no unwanted burning
- Long-lasting engine – your engine will last longer as there will be fewer contaminants and issues causing damage
Do you need any other reason to replace that filter? Probably not.
When to Replace a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter?
The general rule is to wait for the fuel filter to start failing. However, you don’t have to wait for that much.
Most lawn mower owners wait about a year to replace the fuel filter (if the machine is used from time to time). Others will wait until the engine sputters or doesn’t start as it should generally do.
But the best way to know whether you should replace a lawn mower filter or not is by checking it. If the filter looks clogged, too dirty, or damaged/broken, replacing it is the way to go.
TO CONSIDER: Some owners decide only to clean the filter when the dirtiness is not that much. This could give the filter a few extra months of use. We’ll teach you how to clean a fuel filter below.
Where is a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter Located?
Before you get into the nitty-gritty, you’ll want to know where the filter lies.
The reason? You don’t want to waste any time looking for the piece.
However, there’s another reason: you don’t want to confuse the filter with other pieces.
This is why you should always look for the filter by checking the fuel line. Start by looking for the fuel tank and then follow the cable that comes from it. This line should eventually have a thicker section made of plastic with media inside – that’s the filter.
RECOMMENDATION: You can always follow the instruction manual if you have a new lawn mower and available documents. Different lawn mower brands and models place the filter in other places, but they are all located along the fuel line.
What Lawn Mower Filter Should You Use?
This is essential to know before you replace the filter. What type should you get?
The obvious answer would be ideal for your lawn mower. But it goes a little bit deeper than that.
Some mowers can use general-use fuel filters. That is, filters you can adapt to other machines like leaf blowers, chainsaws, and even chipper shredders may also work with your lawn mower. But other mowers will only work with brand-specific filters (or special ones).
RECOMMENDATION: Check your lawn mower’s operator manual before buying any new lawn mower filter. If you have a high-end lawn mower, most likely, you’ll have to install a high-end filter as well (so be careful).
Lawn Mower Fuel Filter Replacement: Step-by-Step Guide
With the filter located and the new filter on hand – it’s now time to get into the replacement process.
This is not a complex process but may require thinking and utmost care with your fuel line. Unless you’re experienced with processes like this, we recommend gently following each step to the letter.
Here’s what you should do:
- Read the Instructions Manual
First and foremost – do you have the operator’s manual at hand? THEN READ IT!
Nothing will help you like the specific advice the manufacturers can give you. This manual should tell you EVERYTHING.
From where the fuel filter is located to how you should replace it when it needs replacing, what type of filter you should use – and a lot more.
If you don’t have any instructions at hand, don’t worry. It happens to most people, so it’s possible to replace the filter without any manual. Lawn mowers are designed to be easy to replace either way.
- Prepare the Area and Yourself
With a better idea of what you should do, it’s now time to prepare the area you’re working on.
As a general rule, you should:
⦁ Get rid of flammable objects, liquids, or stuff that may start a fire
⦁ Wear gloves, a mask, and eyewear for safety (you’re working with fuel)
⦁ Prepare a dry cloth or newspaper for cleaning
⦁ Find a bowl, container, or plastic pan to drain the fuel (and avoid dripping on the floor)
⦁ Find a place with enough ventilation and away from children/pets
Once you’ve followed these steps, you can proceed with the real nitty-gritty.
- Prepare the Mower
Place the mower on a level surface (as flat as possible). This will prevent the fuel from running around.
If you’ve been using the mower in the last 10 minutes, let it cool down for at least 20 minutes. This will prevent you from touching hot and likely damaging pieces.
Then you can proceed to close the fuel valve. This will keep the fuel in the tank from draining out as you remove the old filter. You won’t find a fuel valve in all mowers. Some of them will require you to pinch the fuel line instead (use a clamp for this).
Now the mower is ready for filter removal.
- Remove the Old Filter
The removal process may be the most challenging part. It is important to notice whether you can remove it easily or not.
Here are two things to consider:
⦁ Some fuel filters are directly attached to the fuel line without any add-ons
⦁ Others are installed using metal or plastic clips on each side
For directly attached filters, you need to pull the lines out and twist the filter off. This will release the filter so you can install a new one.
In case the filters have clamps, you will need to use nose pliers for the job. It’s all about sliding the filter out of place and twisting to get it out.
As you remove the filter, make sure the fuel lines fall DIRECTLY into the pan, container, or bowl. This way, you don’t drip any fuel on the floor.
CAREFUL: Fuel lines also wear out and break over time. If you treat the lines too harshly with your hands or pliers, there’s a chance you will break them (so be extra careful). But be aware, damaged, and worn-out fuel lines are often better replaced.
- Clean and Check the Filter
You may want to check the filter before going all-in to replace it. For this, clean the filter exterior first (use the dry cloth). Then shake it off to remove any debris and/or dirt inside and outside.
Now check the filter and look for signs of breakage or media wear. If the filter looks too worn out and dirty, you should replace it. Otherwise, cleaning it may suffice (more on this below).
As a general rule, a fuel filter needs to let you look from one side of the filter to the other. As you place the filter in front of you (careful not to drop fuel on your face), you should see the light as you look from one end. If you can’t see a thing, then it’s probably too dirty and worn out.
You can now decide whether to replace or clean it. Most likely, you will have to replace it entirely.
- Install the New Filter
You should have the new filter at hand. If that’s the case, you can follow pretty much the same process as taking the old filter out but in reverse.
For filters attached without clamps, you need to simply insert the lines into the two ends of the filter. This could take a bit of strength and extra care not to damage anything, but it’s often easy.
For clamped fuel filters, use the clamps to attach them. You won’t need pliers for installing them, but you may use them if necessary. Tighten everything up carefully and finish.
CHECK FOR THIS: Ensure the filter is installed correctly, following the same direction as the old one. You don’t want to install the filtered reverse and get deficient performance (no fuel will go through).
- Test the New Filter
Now you’re almost ready. It’s time to clean everything with a dry cloth. Make sure any fuel you may have dripped is cleaned. Then proceed to check for leaks or disconnected parts.
Nothing to worry about? Then try turning the mower on.
It should start right away and perform better than before. If that’s so, then you’ve successfully replaced a mower fuel filter.
Can You Clean a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter Instead?
Yes – it’s possible and recommended (with some caveats).
What does this mean?
Well, some fuel filters are not necessarily clogged. They’re just dirty. Replacing them could solve the issue, obviously, but cleaning them would be enough.
How do you know if you can clean the filter? Here are some things to look for:
- The filter seems dirty, but you can still see the light when you look through one end
- The engine seems to work well regardless of how dirty the filter looks
- The filter is relatively new (not more than six months since installed)
If you notice any of these signs on the filter, cleaning it could be the best idea. And luckily, it’s not a hard job either.
How to Clean a Lawn Mower Fuel Filter?
The process is a lot simpler than replacing it. It’s always a great approach if you want to save some money and time.
Here’s how it goes:
1. Prepare Everything
Follow the same instructions as with the replacement process. Find a flat area, make sure to wear protective gear, and find a plastic pan or container where to pour fuel in the line.
Also, remove anything that could cause a fire from the place.
2. Disconnect Fuel Lines
If you already know where the filter is, you can proceed to disconnect fuel lines directly. This shouldn’t be too difficult.
More likely, you will have to pull the lines off the filter. If it has clamps, you can use pliers to set them off.
3. Remove the Filter and Check
You can now eject the filter with ease. Check for signs of wear or damage. If there are none, but there’s some debris or dirt to clean, proceed to wash it off.
Remember to clean the filter with a dry cloth first. And don’t put it too close to your face where fuel could jump to your skin, or worse, your eyes.
4. Drain the Filter
Now you can proceed to remove any sign of fuel from the filter. This is done by tapping the filter consistently from the ends (carefully) to get rid of contaminants. Fuel and debris should get out as you do this.
5. Clean the Filter
Find a cleaning solution or product for carburetors. This should get the filter cleaned without causing any damage.
Spray or pour the product inside the filter. Let it act for a few minutes, and then tap again to remove the debris, dirt, or gunk.
VOILA! You’ve cleaned the fuel filter successfully.
Maintenance Tips for Lawn Mower Fuel Filters
Want to reduce the number of times you need to replace and clean your mower fuel filters?
Then check how to maintain it, reduce wear, keep it cleaner, and work neatly for longer:
1. Use High-End Filters
You can consider the most expensive fuel filter or genuine ones to be high-end. Those filters that seem to have extra features, to be made of high-quality materials, or simply have much more to offer than a mere plastic cover and filter media.
Generally, high-end filters last at least 12 months with consistent use. A typical filter doesn’t last more than 8 months.
2. Use Quality Fuel
It’s not a secret that some fuels are dirtier and more damaging to machines than others. High-quality fuel will cause your filter to clog and get dirty a lot faster. Stick to the best fuel possible when using your mower to avoid that.
3. Inspect the Filter Regularly
If you want to keep the filter working pristinely for long, checking it to see how dirty it is will always help.
Cleaning it every couple of months, for example, could be enough to increase its lifespan and get up to twice as much durability from the piece.
So, how ready do you feel to replace a lawn mower fuel filter?
We hope you’re thoroughly ready now!
The fact is, this is an easy process and may not even need much time or work from your side. But it’s still worth doing it well – which is why this guide will help you.
What are you waiting for then? It’s time to get your hands dirty!